Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The fight is not yours but the Lord's.


“The same Lord who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17: 37).

Wednesday 22 January 2020 in the 2nd Week of Ordinary Time is the feast of St Vincent the Deacon (+304). Vincent was born in Spain and earned his martyr's crown in Valencia under the persecution of Emperor Diocletian. Vincent showed great courage and endurance under torture.

January 22 is observed as a day of prayer and penance for all prolife causes.

The Church continues teaching us today the profile of David in the 1st Reading. One great attribute of this man is that he never forgets anything God does for him. He knows that sooner or later, he will meet the same challenge again. This is one characteristics of very successful people. They remember favors.

"All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves. For the battle belongs to the Lord, who shall deliver you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17: 47).

God favored David at such an early age with wisdom. There are people today in their 70's and 80's who believe that life's battles are won by big tanks and armies and billions of dollars. Not David. The Bible teaches that wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord. It is His gift to those who honor Him and respect His laws.

"Thus David triumphed over the Philistine with sling and stone; he struck the Philistine dead, and did it without a sword in his hand." (1 Samuel 17: 50)

How did David overcome Goliath?
With sling and stone. The victory of Christians will come through faith in the name of Jesus. Not through $$ dollars and hard work. The Holy Spirit gives us this Scripture to inspire us.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, January 20, 2020

I have found David my servant.


"I have found David, my servant." (Psalm 89: 21).

Tuesday 21 January of the 2nd Week of Ordinary Time is the feast of St Agnes (+304) virgin and martyr. Agnes was martyred at the age of 13. She is the patron saint of purity.

"I have found David, my servant." (Psalm 89: 21). The figure of David dominates the three liturgical Readings today. What is common between Agnes and David. They both show how God does not choose as man chooses. God chooses what is weak to confound the world.

Who is David?
* The youngest shepherd son of Jesse of Bethlehem.
* He slew Goliath with a sling shot.
* He founded Jerusalem as the capital of unified Israel.
* Committed adultery with Bathsheba.
* To cover up adultery, had Uriah killed.
* Psalmist and liturgist.
* Priest, Prince and Prophet
* Calls God his Father.
* God calls David champion.
* God calls David "a man after my heart."

Is it surprising that David is the most illustrious in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David? The choice, the call and the anointing of David increases our trust and confidence in Divine Providence.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Disobedience is rebellion and idolatry.


"Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15: 22).

Monday 20 January 2020, 2nd Week of Ordinary Time is the feast of St Fabian (+250), Pope and Martyr. St Fabian is famous in history for dividing Rome into seven diaconates for the effective distribution of aids to the poor. He was martyred under Emperor Decius.
Also honored today is St Sebastian (+286), martyr. Sebastian was an officer under Emperor Diocletian. He was martyred when he converted to Christianity.

Our lead Scripture today is: "Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams." It is the word that the Church and Christians need to hear today and every day. Why? Because disobedience is rebellion. It is idolatry to prefer your will to the will of God. Here is the attitude and character of our Savior Jesus Christ:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in. Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God." (Hebrews 10: 6 - 7).

Anything short of obedience is displeasing to Abba Father. The "will of God" seems to have disappeared from the language of the Church. In former times, it is the bench mark for all decisions and discernment. If we want God to guide and bless our decisions and projects, the will of God must return to our thinking and decisions. If not, we must be prepared to be treated like King Saul in our first Reading today:
"Because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he, too, has rejected you as ruler.”

“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth, Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?” (Psalm 50: 16 - 17.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Choice, the Call and the Anointing of a Messenger.


"John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1: 29).

Sunday 19 January 2020, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Church presents a unified strong voice in all the Scripture readings: 1st, 2nd, Responsorial Psalm and Gospel. What is the common theme? The Choice, the Call and the Anointing. The principal characters in today's Scripture: Isaiah, John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul were all chosen, called and anointed to ministry by the Father.

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord and had the opportunity to renew our Baptismal Promises. We heard that we too are chosen, called and anointed to bear witness to the Death, Resurrection and Name of Jesus. These Scriptures from today's Liturgy point to our mission.

"The Lord said to me: You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory..... I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." (Isaiah 49: 3, 5 - 6).

Jesus is the Light of the world. Isaiah, John the Baptist and Paul and Christians carry the Light of the Gospel to our world.

"Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God..." (1 Corinthians 1: 1 - 3).

We Christians are called along with Paul to be holy and missionary.

"I have waited, waited for the Lord,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God." (Responsorial Psalm 40: 8-9).

Wait for the Lord to commission you. Be patient. In the fullness of time, He will do it. The Holy Spirit will give you all the needed gifts for your ministry.

Daily Bible Verse
@ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, January 17, 2020

Jesus is not ashamed to call us family.

“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2: 16).


Saturday 18 January 2020, of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time.

The Pharisees were scandalized to see Jesus in table fellowship with a large group of sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes. The Pharisees not known to hold back their judgment on moral failure were quick to pass judgment and condemn Jesus. There are a number of teaching points in this situation, but let us  consider one which could lift us up.

Jesus has shown and said that He is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters. He knows who we are and the stuff of which we are made. Remember the Genealogy of Jesus Christ Son of David? That's the whole point. He came to redeem and save His kith and kin.

If Jesus is not ashamed to call you His brother and sister. Do not be ashamed to call Him your Lord.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Feast of St Anthony of the Desert.


"If you would be perfect, go, sell what you have, give to the poor, and follow me, says the Lord." (Matthew 19: 21).

Friday 17 January 2020, of 1st Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Anthony, Abbot (251 - 356). Also called St Anthony the Great and St Anthony of the Desert. It is said that Anthony heard our key Scripture in Church and literally sold all he had, distributed it to the poor and marched off to the desert where he lived the rest of his life. He was 18 years old when he made this radical decision. 

In the desert, Anthony attracted like minded monks and they formed a community. St Anthony struggled a great deal against the powers of darkness and God aided
Anthony to overcome.  Anthony showed a great talent for spiritual direction and people traveled great distances to be counseled by him.

It is said that the best advertisement for Jesus are the saints. The saints prove that the teachings of Jesus are true and they work. Jesus is glorified when we honor the saints. This is why the Communion of the Saints and the communion with us saints in the Church is so powerful.

"If you would be perfect, go, sell what you have, give to the poor, and follow me, says the Lord." (Matthew 19: 21).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Of course, I want to heal you.


"A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean." (Mark 1: 40 - 42).

Thursday 16 January 2020 of Week 1 in Ordinary Time.

The cleansing of this audacious leper by Jesus teaches us some important lessons on faith:

#1 The leper was bold and confident with expectant faith.
#2 He worshipped Jesus by kneeling down.
#3 He sought for Jesus and found Him.
#4 His faith knocked at the Heart of Jesus and the Heart was unlocked for the leper.
#5 Then the leper asked Jesus for healing and received his cleansing.
"I will heal you," Jesus said.

I have found from my own experience that whenever I approached Jesus with bold faith, expecting a YES, I have received what I asked for.
Pray with bold confidence and expect to receive an answer because you know you are asking what God has already promised to give.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Speak your servant is listening.


“Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3: 10).

Wednesday 15 January 2020, in the 1st week in Ordinary Time.

Samuel, the son of Hannah and the great Prophet of Israel has his first encounter with the God of Israel. Here is the epitaph of Samuel to indicate his legacy:
"Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to go unfulfilled. Thus all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba came to know that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord." (1 Samuel 3: 19 - 20).
This is pretty strong endorsement from the Boss of Samuel. What personal qualities got Samuel to be so highly rated in the annals of Israel? The answer is in the Responsorial Psalm 40 which is known as a Messianic Psalm.

"Blessed the man who makes the Lord his trust; who turns not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood."...
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me. To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!”...
I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O Lord, know." (Psalm 40: 8,9).

This Messianic Psalm applies to the character of Samuel. He is uncompromisingly loyal to God. He despises idolatry and falsehood. He courageously tells truth to power.
"Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will."

"The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice, says the Lord, I know them and they follow me." (John 10: 27).
O that we will hear your voice today and follow you!

Daily Bible Verse
@ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, January 13, 2020

Urgent prayer for a son.


“O Lord of hosts, if you look with pity on the misery of your ­handmaid, if you remember me and do not forget me, if you give your handmaid a male child, I will give him to the Lord for as long as he lives; neither wine nor liquor shall he drink, and no razor shall ever touch his head.” (1 Samuel 1: 11).

Tuesday, 14 January 2020, in Ordinary Time.

We have for reflection today the great prayer of Hannah, mother of the Prophet Samuel. This is a powerful prayer by a woman of faith who appears to understand the mind of God. The Church uses frequently the hymn of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2: 1 - 8 in her Liturgy. What we learn from the prayer of Hannah:

#1 Humility: "Look with pity on the misery of your handmaid."
#2 Target petition: "Give your handmaid a male child."
#3 Quid pro quo: "If you give your handmaid a male child, I will give him to the Lord for as long as he lives."
#4 Pledges to train the boy in the ways of the Lord: "Neither wine nor liquor shall he drink, and no razor shall ever touch his head.”

Not even a human being, sinful and selfish as we are will fail to notice such a prayer. The old priest Eli rocking in his armchair overhead the prayer and added his priestly blessing: “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” (1 Samuel 1: 7).

"It is the Lord who gives poverty and riches. He brings men low and raises them on high." (1 Samuel 2: 8).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The time of fulfillment has arrived.


“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1: 14).

Monday 13 January 2020, the 1st week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Hilary of Poitiers (315 - 368), Bishop and Doctor of the Church. France is called the eldest daughter of the Church. Look at the dates of St Hilary and you will see why. Before 315 AD, the Church hierarchy already existed in France. St Hilary powerfully defended the divinity of Christ against the Arian heresy. He helped the Church understand the deeper significance of the of the Incarnation.

The arrest and execution of St John the Baptist was a signal for Jesus to launch His ministry. His very first pronouncement is significant: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

"This is the time of fulfillment."
What fulfillment? Of all the prophecies and promises made to the chosen people since Genesis 3: 15. Every prophecy, every promise is now fulfilled in Jesus and His Mission. How do we get on board?
Repentance. The early Church likes the word Metanoia, a strong Greek word for repentance implying an irreversible 360 degree change.

Metanoia may not succeed unless it is anchored on a living Faith that is nourished every day through prayer, word of God, Eucharist, Reconciliation, ministry and spiritual reading. He who puts his hand to the plough must not look back.

"Open our heart, O Lord, to accept the words of your Son. (Acts 16: 14).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Baptism of the Lord.


"After the Lord was baptized, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended upon him like a dove, and the voice of the Father thundered: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." (Cf Matthew 3: 16 - 17).

Sunday 12 January 2020, the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. This feast concludes the Season of Christmas.

Why is the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ a very important mystery of faith?

#1 The Holy Spirit anoints Jesus for His mission.
#2 The Father testifies that Jesus is His beloved Son.
#3 The Most Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit is revealed.

Why is the feast of the Baptism of Jesus important for us Christians?

#1 In our Baptism, we are anointed with the Holy Spirit for our mission. 

#2 Our Baptism is the beginning of our Christian life. 

#3 Our Baptism makes us the adopted children of God. 

#4 Our Baptism makes us brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. 

#5 We become new creation as soon as we are baptized. 

Brothers and sisters, on this day, we have the opportunity to renew our Baptismal Promises. We sweep away the old yeast so that we can truly be who we are in Jesus: a new creation.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, January 10, 2020

Whatever you ask in accordance with the will of God is yours.


"And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours." (1 John 5: 14 - 15).

Saturday 11 January 2020, last day in the Season of Christmas.

We have an amazing promise in our Scripture pick for today from 1 John 5. Whatever we ask God in prayer is ours! Not so fast. That is: "If we ask anything according to his will." There should be no problem with this condition if we know and believe this truth: GOD KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED AND WHEN WE NEED IT." If you believe this and bring this to your prayers of petition, you will be surprised that what you have asked for is yours.

To further convince us that God is not playing games with His promises, remember this:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7: 7).

Ask the saints who are credited with miracles how they are able to perform miracles, they will point to the promise in Matthew 7: 7. And may add: God is always faithful to His promises.

Ask God in accordance with His will and what you ask for is yours. If you are are not sure what the will of God is, then ask your saintly intercessor like the Blessed Virgin Mary or your patron saint. The Communion of the Saints is one of the understated doctrine and truth in the Church.

Ask, seek, knock and receive what you ask for. Find what you seek. The door you knock on will be opened to you.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, January 09, 2020

The joy of praising the Lord.


"O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!
Zion, praise your God!" (Psalm 147

Friday 10 January 2020 in the Season of Christmas. Two more days to the end of the beautiful Christmas Season. The word of God to live by today comes from the Responsorial Psalm. The Psalms have been forever the Prayer Book of the Church. Its treasures are inexhaustible. Today, we are urged to praise the Lord; to praise our God.

To suck out the marrow in this Psalm, we must ask: Why should I praise the Lord? Now the answer:

"He has strengthened the bars of your gates; he has blessed the children within you." (Psalm 147: 13).
What does the bars of your gates mean? This is a military defense language. We can look at our life as  7 War Zones:
Family, health, job, finances, tools and possessions, food and future. Each of these war zone has a gate for protection against intruders. Each gate is made of hardened steel.
"He has strengthened the bars of your gates; he has blessed the children within you." God offers impregnable protection to His children who acknowledge and praise Him.

That is not all. God promises further:
"He established peace on your borders, he feeds you with finest wheat." (Psalm 147: 14).

He promises to feed us with the finest wheat. Which wheat could possibly be finer than the Eucharist? For all this, it is fitting and right to "praise the Lord, Jerusalem! Zion, praise your God!"

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Jesus set His face to His Mission after His Baptism.


“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke 4: 18 - 19).

Thursday 9 January 2020, post Epiphany Sunday. Sunday January 12 is the Solemnity of the Baptism of Jesus the Christ.

In the Baptism of the Christ (Matthew 3: 16 - 17), Jesus is anointed by the Holy Spirit for a Mission:
#1 Bring the Good News to the poor.
#2 Proclaim liberty to captives.
#3 Recovery of sight to the blind.
#4 Grant freedom to the oppressed.

Our own Baptism and Mission are intertwined with the Baptism and Mission of Jesus. When we own our Baptism and accept our Mission, we blossom and become saints. In the history of mankind, the saints are the only successful people. This is why their lives are celebrated year after year. We still celebrate the memories of Peter, Paul, Jude, Stephen, Cecilia, Agatha. Catherine, etc. This is what true success means. The world has a different standard for success. The club of the saints are open every day for enrollment. The game starts with ownership of our Baptism and embracing our mission. We can never embark on our Mission without the Holy Spirit. Therefore ask for the Holy Spirit. Ask for Him again and again.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

I am with you. Do not be afraid.


“Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” (Mark 6: 50).

Wednesday 8th January 2020 in the Season of Christmas. It was a terrifying scene. Utter darkness. Roaring waves. Although many of the Apostles were seasoned fishermen, they had never seen anything like this before. Where is Jesus? They left Him to dismiss the crowd.

"But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out." (Mark 6: 49). When we allow fear to overcome us, our eyes can see double. We see crouching tigers in the dark ready to spring on us where there is only an empty box.

How do the Christian deal with fear? The answer is all over the Gospel.
"I am with you always."
"Do not be afraid. It is I."
"Fear is useless. All you need is trust."

Consider the Sacrament of the Present Moment. This is a technique for remembering the Presence of Jesus through for example, the invocation of His name.
"When you remember Me, I will be present."

The name of Jesus is a bulwark against demons and fears.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, January 06, 2020

A good food that comes with promises.


"They all ate and were satisfied." (Mark 6: 42).

Tuesday 7th of January 2020 is the feast of St Raymond of Peñafort, (1175 - 1275), Dominican Priest. Raymond is known in history for two key contributions: Like the Curé of Ars, he had an extraordinary charism in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Ask Jesus to lead you to such a priest. One confession is all you need to turn around your life. Raymond wrote volumes which are part of the Canon Law.

Our Scripture for today proclaims: "They all ate and were satisfied." (Mark 6: 42). What does this mean? For me, this points to the immense generosity of God. The Scripture is from the story of the multiplication of loaves where Jesus fed 5000 men and there were 12 baskets of leftover. Remember the story of the manna in the desert where a whole nation ate of the heavenly food for years. Both the manna and today's incident of the Multiplication of loaves point to the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a daily food that shows the kindness and generosity of God as perhaps no other thing can show. Day after day, millions are fed all over the world. "They all ate and were satisfied." (Mark 6: 42).

Thank You Jesus for this abundant food of your Body and Blood.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Repent of your independence from God.


“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4: 17).

Monday 6 January 2020 in the Season of Christmas is the feast of St André Bessette (1845 - 1937). André Bessette is a Religious Brother, born near Quebec in Canada and lived out his life in the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Montreal. The life of St André Bessette confirms that holiness attracts. Although St André performed only humble tasks assigned to him, the sick and the poor flocked to his cell. He committed them to the care of St Joseph the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and through the intercession of St Joseph obtained numerous miracles for the people.

In the very first week of 2020, Jesus urged us: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4: 17).

What are we to repent of?

"First and foremost, it is a realization of who we are. We are created by God; we are creatures of God who are totally dependent on him. We are the “anawim,” the poor people of the Lord, the little people who know that they are totally dependent, who “lean” on God, ­knowing that without God they can do nothing.
This is the first step to prayer—to know who we are: saved sinners, entirely dependent on God. We are ­dependent. To the proud, this is anathema. We look at ourselves and we say, “I depend on no one.” (Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty).

We are to repent of our foolish pride and nonsensical idea of independence and self-sufficiency.

"The child of God can fear no ill,
His chosen dread no foe;
We leave our fate with thee, and wait Thy bidding when to go.
‘Tis not from chance our comfort springs, Thou art our trust, O King of kings." (Liturgy of the Hours: #52 Lauds Hymn).

The comforts we enjoy are not from Chance but from God's gracious ordaining. (Cf 2 Corinthians 1: 3 - 4).

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4: 17).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, January 04, 2020

The 3 Magi came. They saw. They believed.


"They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2: 10 - 11).

Sunday 5th January 2020 in the Season of Christmas is the Solemnity of the Epiphany." "The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation." (CCC 528).

The three magi from the East, rich and highly educated men entered the unassuming house and saw the child with Mary and  instantly  recognized the humble child as Christ the Lord. How is this possible? The star is the secret. The star of Bethlehem. When God leads you, He gives you signs.

When the magi recognized the child, they came to faith. "They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."

Faith is critical whenever you encounter God. "This is My Body. This is My Blood." You encounter the Risen Jesus in the Eucharist. What do you do? What will the shepherds do? What will the three magi do? Faith is seeing with the heart.

What have you seen at Christmas?
"We have seen his star in the East,
and have come with gifts to adore the Lord." (Matthew 2: 2).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, January 03, 2020

We honor today St Elizabeth Ann Seton.


“We have found the Messiah” (John 1: 41).

Saturday January 4th in the Season of Christmas is the feast of St Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 - 1821), Religious. Elizabeth is blessed as wife, mother, educator and founder of a religious order. She was born in New York. Why is she significant in the Church in America? She founded the Sisters of Charity, a teaching order that has made a significant contribution to education and the American parochial school system. Secondly, she was the first person born in continental United States of America to be canonized a saint.

But more to the point is that Elizabeth Ann Seton found the fullness of Jesus Christ and His teaching in the Catholic Church. Like Andrew and John in our Scripture of today, Elizabeth must have exclaimed when she converted to Catholicism and received into the Church: "I have found the fullness of knowledge and faith in Jesus. I have found the Eucharist!"

Be that as it may, John the Baptist is great but he is not Jesus the Christ.

"Behold a wise woman who has built her house. She feared the Lord and walked in the right path." (Proverbs 14: 1 - 2).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, January 02, 2020

The Power of the Holy Name of Jesus.


"She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 21).

Friday 3rd January, 2020 in the Season of Christmas is the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. It is also the First Friday of January 2020. Even before the Gospels were written, the Name of Jesus has been revered and venerated. In fact, the power of the Name of Jesus is one of the four pillars of Apostolic Witness. Others are:
#1 The Death of Jesus.
#2 The Resurrection of Jesus.
#3 The Witness of Sacred Scriptures to these events.

Is there any wonder that this hymn from Philippians below is the earliest liturgical hymn recorded. This hymn is a historical testament that Liturgy (the Mass) precedes the written Gospels.

"At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2: 10 - 11).

Demons fear the Name of Jesus. Use it often as an armor of protection. The Jesus Prayer, "Jesus have mercy on me" is a full prayer. Use it when you need a quick prayer.

Jesus, I Trust in You.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday, 1st in 2020!


January 3, 2020  -  First Friday in January.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 1st  month of the year 2020, we look at Promise #1.

#1.  "I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life."
 
What is your state of life?
A.  Married
B.  Single
C.  Divorced
D.   Adolescent

Each state has its strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  Jesus promises us here:  sufficient grace to cope with whatever happens.  We know that anything can happen anytime.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

Seekfirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Who are you?


“Who are you?” (John 1: 19).

Thursday, January 2, 2020 in the Season of Christmas is the feast day of two great Doctors of the Church: St Basil the Great (329 - 397) and St Gregory Nazienzen (329 - 389). Besides being contemporaries, they were great friends. God promises that the gates of hell shall never prevail against the Church. Whenever the Church is under great distress, God raises up great saints as bulwark against the forces of evil. Gregory and Basil were the answer God provided to deal with the scourge of the Arian heresy in the 4th century.

The Jewish leaders who were unsure of the identity of John the Baptist sent a delegation to ask him: "Who are you?" John the Baptist knew who he was: “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” (John 1: 23).

Do you know who you are? I don't mean: I am a teacher, nurse, doctor, housewife, soldier, etc. Do you know who you are in Christ? Do you know your identity in Christ Jesus? Next to the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, which constitute eternal life, your true identity may be the most important knowledge you need. I struggled for a couple of decades on this question. I begin to suspect only recently that I am an evangelist and a catechist. My one desire after my metanoia is to know the Heart of Jesus intimately, to love Him passionately and to share my knowledge and experience of Jesus Christ. This has been an exciting adventure. I can report that Jesus is a great Friend and Leader full of joy, kindness, generosity and compassion.

How do you know who you are? How do you discover your ID? Each of the 7 billion people on earth has their identity in the Scriptures.
"Read some chapter of a devout book every day..... It is very easy and most necessary. For just as you speak to God when you are at prayer, God speaks to you when you read." (St Vincent de Paul; St Ambrose of Milan). Especially when you read Sacred Scripture. God is waiting to reveal things to you including who you are.

Armed with your identity, you are ready to contribute to the building of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

January 1, 2020 is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God.


"When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." is (Galatians 4: 4 - 5).

January 1, 2020 in the Octave of Christmas is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

"Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as "the mother of my Lord". In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly "Mother of God" (Theotokos)." (CCC 495).

Our key Scripture says that in the fullness of time, God fulfilled the promise He made long ago. Are you waiting for the fullness of time on anything? Health, family, finances, job, tools and necessary resources?
Our Scripture today indicates that nothing happens until the fullness of time, the Kairos time. Do you have a relationship with the Mary the Mother of God? Mary who after Jesus is our greatest intercessor in Heaven by the gracious and mysterious will of God is waiting to embrace and help you.  Mary is key to our knowledge and relationship with Jesus her Son. Mary is the only human being who knew Jesus from conception to His death.

Mary Mother of God pray for us.

SeekFirstCommunity Team wishes you a 2020 full of faith, patience, prayer, peace and prosperity.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, December 30, 2019

Have you seen the Antichrist?


"Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour." (1 John 2: 18).

Tuesday 31st December 2019, 7th Day in the Octave of Christmas is also the feast of St Sylvester 1. Elected Pope in 314 and died about 335. Sylvester served the Church at a very turbulent period in Church history. Arian heresy and the Donatist schism threatened to destroy the Church. Then Constantine appeared and offered peace. After this, Pope Sylvester contributed a great deal in the expansion of the faith in the Roman Empire.

This is the last hour warned the Apostle John and he went further:
The "Antichrists have appeared." Have you seen any? These are some of the characteristics from the Christian Scriptures:
Lawlessness
Deceit
Temporary success
Mass seduction
Adversary
Son of perdition
Opposed Christ.
(Cf 2 Thessalonians 2: 3 - 12; Matthew 24: 23 - 26).

Pope St John Paul II warned in 1976 at the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia (before he became pontiff) that we are now facing the final confrontation between the Antichrist and the Church. Remember how King Henry VIII caught over 300 English Bishops napping in 1535? Only Bishop St John Fisher earned the crown of Martyrdom. Below is a prophetic teaching of the Church on the Antichrist:

"Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh."   (CCC 675).

Do not be asleep. Be vigilant and pray at all times so that you may not fall into severe temptation. Do not become an Anti-Witness.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Who is Anna the Widow?


"There was a prophetess, Anna... She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer." (Luke 2: 36, 37).

Monday, December 30 2019, 6th Day in the Octave of Christmas. Our Gospel today is about  Anna, the widow. Married young and lost her husband after only seven years of marriage, Anna decided not to remarry but rather to dedicate the rest of her life serving God in the Temple. She did this through worshipping, and continuous fasting and prayer. Anna is the first Evangelist mentioned in the Gospels, as she "spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem." (Luke 2: 38).

When she was 84 years old, the Lord rewarded Anna for her long faithful service. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, she walked into the Temple when Mary and Joseph were in the Temple to present the Child Jesus to the Lord. "And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem." (Luke 2: 38).

Brethren, the story of Anna teaches us that it is good to serve the Lord faithfully. Anna and Mary are two examples of great faithfulness in serving God not for one year or 10 years or 50 years but day after day all life long. But what is most admirable is the faithfulness of God. The Bible says that faithfulness is the essence of who God is. Both Anna, Mary and Joseph responded to the faithful love and mercies of God to them.
May we do the same.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.


"The shepherds went in haste,
and found Mary and Joseph and the Infant lying in a manger." (Luke 2: 16).

Sunday 29 December 2019, within the Octave of Christmas is the Solemnity of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

We pray with the Church:
"O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practising the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.. ."

In the fullness of time, when all was ready, God sent His Son to dwell among us in time and space and be obedient to the human and natural laws in the world.

As long as I can remember, the sacred blessing below is the gift of God to every family on Holy Family Sunday. God's gift is to be appropriated with joy and faith.
"May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts; let the message of Christ find a home with you." (Colossians 3: 15, 16).

"The Christian family is a Communion of persons. It is called to partake of the prayer and sacrifice of Christ. Daily prayer and the reading of the Word of God strengthen it in charity. The Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task." (CCC 2205).

A family that prays together stays together.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, December 27, 2019

The blood of the Holy Innocents.


"If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 5 : 9 - 10).

Saturday 28th December 2019 is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. It is surprising how fast we transitioned from the joyful birth of Jesus to the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt and to the slaughter of the Holy Innocents. This is perhaps a rude reminder to all of us that the Mission of Jesus is to be Savior and a Redeemer. Salvation from Sin and Redemption from the debt of Sin.

Our Scripture pick for today lays down clearly the part we must play for the Salvation and Redemption that Jesus Christ accomplished for us.
"If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 5 : 9 - 10).

We must acknowledge our sins. We do in every Mass. How about other occasions? Remember the ABC of Mercy?

Ask for Mercy.

Be Merciful.

Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

"Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD." And You forgave the guilt of my sin." (Psalm 32: 5).

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is also the beginning of redemption and salvation.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, December 26, 2019

What I have seen and heard this week.


"What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." (1 John 1: 3).

Friday 27th December 2019 is the Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist. John wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles and the Book of Revelation. John is an eye witness and a credible witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the will of God that we learn the truth of the Gospel from credible witnesses. The Church is the credible witness for over 2000 years. Countless crowds of witnesses.

Our Scripture text for today challenges me to ask: What have I seen?
+ I have seen the Church gathered for the Eucharist on Christmas Eve to celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ.
+ I have seen people come up to receive the Eucharist with great reverence.
+ Today, I saw the majestic Cathedral, the Seat of the Bishop, a successor to St John the Evangelist, whose feast we celebrate today.
+ I have seen Jesus Christ in the person of the priest at the Altar.
+ I have seen Jesus in a homeless woman in the train station.

What have I heard?
+ I have heard the Good News proclaimed from the Altar.
+ I have heard it proclaimed on television, radio and music.

Father, we pray that with St John the Evangelist we may share in the hidden wisdom of your eternal Word which You reveal to us at the Eucharistic table. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Feast of St Stephen, the first Martyr.


"Now Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people." (Acts 6: 8).

Thursday 26 December 2019 is the feast of Saint Stephen, the first Martyr. "St Stephen was one of the seven deacons who helped the apostles (Acts 6: 1 - 6) and was filled with faith and the Holy Spirit," and was "full of fortitude" (Acts 6: 5, 8). Stephen died praying for his executioners. The similarities between Stephen's martyrdom and the crucifixion of Our Lord emphasize his imitation of Christ even up to the complete gift of self." (Roman Missal).

We learn from the brief summary of the life of St Stephen from the Roman Missal that Stephen must have been a very important witness in the early Church. Consider why:

#1 Stephen's life and experience shows that the promises of Jesus are true. "When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say." (Matthew 10: 19).

#2 Stephen died like Jesus forgiving his executioners.

This vindication of the promises of Jesus and fearless embrace of martyrdom made a deep impression on the Church. The Church included the name of St Stephen in the Canon of the Mass to intercede for the Church.

"As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7: 58).
The prayer and blood of martyrs are very powerful. God works through prayers. Especially of saints.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Solemnity of the Nativity of Christ the Lord.

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, Upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains By judgment and justice, both now and forever." (Isaiah 9: 5 - 6).

Wednesday December 25th, the Solemnity of the Nativity of Christ the Lord. Listen to Isaiah's joyous proclamation: "For a child is born to us!"

Who is this Child that is born to us?
He is Jesus the Savior!
He is Emmanuel, God with us.
But why is He born to us?
He became man that we may become God. The process of our becoming God starts in Baptism when we receive the Holy Spirit who makes us the adopted children of the Father. This process of becoming continues all our life. What is the end game? Eternal life. Everlasting life. Endless life of bliss with God. Where there is no more death or sorrow. No anger or war. Endless Liturgy, music and feasting.

Thank You Jesus. We love You. We welcome You.

SeekFirstCommunity Team wish all of you the best Christmas ever! Peace and joy!

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Coming of the Prince of Peace.


"A mighty Savior..... to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1: 69, 79).

Tuesday 24 December, Christmas Eve. At last Advent is almost over.  At the heart of the Christmas celebration is the promise of peace and joy, twin gifts that are unmistakable gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Christian and a sure sign of His presence.

Do you know the peace of Christ? This is how Sacred Scripture describes the peace of David in the 1st Reading:
"Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest [peace] from all the enemies surrounding him." Note that God bestows peace on David. "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." (Isaiah 26: 3).
The Infant Child of Bethlehem promises us:
"A mighty Savior..... to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1: 69, 79).

Jesus declared in His public ministry that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Way that leads to peace is the way of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. If there is no peace in your home, at work, in your church or in the world,  look at the Beatitudes. (Matthew 5: 3 - 11). The Way of Jesus is the sure guide to peace.

"O Morning star, radiance of eternal light, sun of justice, come and enlighten those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

You too, you are my messenger.


"Thus says the Lord God: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way be­fore me." (Malachi 3: 1).

Monday 23 December 2019 is the feast of St John Kanty (1390 - 1473), Polish priest. University professor and noted for his great humility. The Church teaches that if we pay attention to the example of the saints, we grow in the wisdom of the saints. The example of St Fulton Sheen has helped me in my writing and publishing. Good biography exerts great power over us.

Our key Scripture says that the Lord is sending His messenger to prepare a way for the Coming of Jesus Christ. Has it ever occurred to you that you might be one of the  messengers? What do you make of the Dismissal Rite of the Mass? It can come in one of these words:
"Go forth, the Mass is ended."
Or:
"Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord."
Or:
"Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life."
Or:
"Go in peace." They all mean the same thing. You are being sent forth to prepare the way of the Lord.
We respond:
Thanks be to God.

I was astonished when I learned that this is one of the most important parts of the Mass. How? It is the time the Lord Jesus is sending us out to share the gifts we receive at Mass.

You too "I am sending you as my messenger to prepare the way be­fore me."
O that today you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Just man shall live by faith.


"Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall ­conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel." (Isaiah 7: 14)

Sunday of the 4th week of Advent. Ahaz, King of Judah and the anti-hero of today's Scripture Readings refused to ask for a sign from God. God wanted to help his beleaguered nation from certain crushing defeat. The sign was to encourage Ahaz to believe that God meant business.

Who is the hero of today's Scriptures?
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 20 - 21).

The anti-hero, Ahaz is governed by pride and selfishness. The hero, Joseph is ruled by the spirit of faith and obedience. He is the Just man of Habakkuk: "The just one who is righteous because of faith shall live." (Habakkuk 2: 4).

The anti-hero despises the numerous signs God sends him to assure him of His presence and faithfulness. The hero is always in the lookout for the sign of Jesus-Emmanuel: the Savior who is with us, who has become an active Presence. We adore You O Christ and bless You.

Jesus-Emmanuel I trust in You.
Jesus-Emmanuel I surrender myself completely to You.
Jesus-Emmanuel take care of everything.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, December 20, 2019

Feast of St Peter Canisius, Catechist and Evangelist.


"Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1: 41 - 43).

Saturday 21 December 2019 is the first of St Peter Canisius of the Society of Jesus. (1521 - 1592), Priest and Doctor of the Church. Born in Holland. Worked all his life in Germany. Called the Apostle of Germany because of his key role in rolling back the advance of Lutheranism in Germany. He participated in the Council of Trent as a theologian. He founded several Jesuit Colleges. He wrote a famous and popular Catechism which was published in several languages and went into many editions.
The Church teaches that Jesus Christ is glorified when we honor the saints. I honor St Peter Canisius as my patron saint.

"Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1: 45). Elizabeth said this to Mary, thereby identifying Faith as one of Mary's strongest gifts. Our saint of today, St Peter Canisius must have been a man of great faith to have bloomed in a time of the greatest challenge to the Church.

"O Key of David, who open the gates of the eternal kingdom, come to liberate from prison the captive who lives in darkness."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, December 19, 2019

How can this be?


“The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." (Luke 1: 35).

Friday 20 December 2019. To Mary's perplexed question: "How can this be?" we learn a revelation that gives joy and consolation to the heart.

Most of us are tense and nervous when we start a new project. The student teacher stepping into the classroom for the first time; the young doctor faced with his first surgical operation. All complex tasks are intimidating for the first time. Remember that Mary must have been 13 or 14 when she experienced the Annunciation.

Mary's question "how can this be?" would be normal to most people. It is the Archangel Gabriel's response that is pure consolation. God shared with every Christian His life-giving Spirit to abide with us forever. The Spirit is Paraclete, Advocate, Friend and always present in us and with us in all types of situations. My favorite title for the Holy Spirit is the Voice that speaks in Court. He has saved me from certain hardship in litigation by putting the right words in my mouth at precisely the right moment.

The Church teaches that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Where Mary is, there is the Holy Spirit. It is not easy to know and cherish Mary without knowing and cherishing the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life.

"O Key of David, who open the gates of the eternal kingdom, come to liberate from prison the captive who lives in darkness."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Dreamer and silent powerful Partner.


“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her." (Matthew 1: 20).

Wednesday of the 3rd week of Advent. Here comes Joseph! The three members of the Holy Family are named in our Gospel of today. Mary, Joseph and Jesus Emmanuel.

While Mary spoke sparingly in the Gospels, Joseph the husband of Mary bore silent witness to the Gospel through his robust faith and humility. God communicated with Joseph through dreams and Joseph showed exceptional docilty and obedience. He protected Mary staunchly during her pregnancy and provided for his family through his manual labor.

Jesus Christ is glorified when we honor the saints. First in rank is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Next is St Joseph. In the Communion of the Saints, Mary and Joseph are very powerful intercessors in the Court of Heaven.

The name of Joseph is in the Canon of the Mass, coming after that of the Virgin Mary.  Pope Francis added the name of St Joseph to the three other Eucharistic Prayers. The cult of St Joseph is solid and universal in the Church. Thanks to what I read from the autobiography of St Teresa of Avila, I have a deep devotion to St Joseph and place my work under his powerful patronage.

"O Ruler of the House of Israel, who gave the law to Moses on Sinai,
come and save us with outstretched arm." (Gospel Antiphon).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, December 16, 2019

This is the family of Jesus Christ.


"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers." (Matthew 1: 1 - 2).

Tuesday of the 3rd week of Advent is the 17th Day of December, we are a week from the Eve of Christmas. The Church starts singing the O - Antiphons. The Gospel today is from the Genealogy of Jesus Christ according to St Matthew. Are you one of those bored by the Genealogy? Do you consider the Genealogy meaningless?

Some years ago, I had the fortune of engaging three bright Mormon young men in a weekly Bible conversation for seven weeks. I did not know much about the Mormon faith and did not have enough time to read up. So I prayed to the Paraclete, the Voice that speaks in Court to help me. The answer to that prayer was delightful and unforgettable.

The Mormons claimed that the need for a new Christian religion was because the Christian religion founded by Jesus Christ apostasized from the time of Emperor Constantine. So God was angry and not only rejected the Church but abrogated His promises. Right? I asked. Right, they answered in chorus. Then let us turn to the Gospel of Matthew. Each of my Mormon friends took turn in reading the Genealogy according to St Matthew. I asked if they were familiar with the life story of the principal characters in the Genealogy.

The Genealogy teaches that God is merciful and faithful. God did not choose the best and unfiltered humanity. He chose whom He pleases, a mixed bag.

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." (Ephesians I: 5 NLT).

God is faithful to His intentions and promises. He is not Yes and No. He is always Yes.
"The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11: 29).

"O Wisdom of the Most High,
ordering all things with strength and gentleness, come and teach us the way of truth."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Who gave you this authority?


“By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21: 23).

Monday of the 3rd week of Advent. A confrontation between the chief priests and elders with Jesus over Authority. Consider the following facts:

The kingdom that Jesus came to set up has some commonalities with earthly kingdoms. For example :
1. King
2. A realm/domain
3. A government
4. Laws
5. Citizens

When Jesus threw out the money changers from the Temple, the recognized authorities of the Temple questioned His authority.
"Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” By this question, Jesus points to the chief priests and elders the existence of a different type of authority.

In the trial of the Apostles Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, we see the Teacher Gamaliel allude to a different authority:
"So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.  But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” They were persuaded by him." (Acts 5: 38 - 39).

The truth is that the Kingdom of God is already here and now. The Church is the seed of that Kingdom.
Where does the Pope get his authority? Not from the barrels of the gun as some dictators believe. Stalin quipped:  "How many military divisions does the Pope have?" Jesus answered that question to Pontius Pilate:
"My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place."

The question for us is:
Does King Jesus reign over your heart and mind and finances? If not, Advent is the Season of grace to place your life under the authority of Jesus Christ.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Be patient like a farmer.


"Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient." (James 5: 7 - 8).

How long does it take a mango seedling to grow, bear fruits until that first greenish yellow mango fruit is ripened and ready to be eaten? About 1350 days in the tropics. How do I know? Because I planted a mango seedling to find out . What have I learned as a mango tree farmer?

#1 Patience is Power
"I waited, I waited for the Lord; who bent down and heard my cry"(Psalm 40: 1)

#2 This young mango seedling faced many challenges to its survival in its early years. Storms, strong winds, too much rain, insects; all threatened its existence. But it survived.

#3 The fruit came in the fullness of time. In the right season.

#4 The season for bearing fruit will also come for you if only you remain patient and wait for it.

#5 Fruit bearing season is different for every person.

How long must we wait for the Lord to answer our prayer?
In the fullness of time, God makes everything beautiful. God is faithful and loves those who wait for Him

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, December 13, 2019

St John of the Cross, Mystic and Doctor of the Church.


"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me, says the Lord." (Cf. Matthew  16: 24).

Saturday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of St John the Cross (1542 - 1591), Carmelite Priest and Doctor of the Church. Born in Spain near Avila, he cooperated with St Teresa of Avila, another Carmelite mystic and Doctor of the Church for the reform of the Carmelite Order. His Carmelite brothers did not take kindly to his ideas or severe discipline. They captured him and imprisoned him in a high attic where escape was virtually impossible. Providentially, he escaped and continued his writings. He wrote many profound works of mysticism of which THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL remains a spiritual classic.

"May I never boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6: 14).

God endowed St John of the Cross with an outstanding dedication to self-denial and love of the Cross. May we obtain through his intercession similar gifts.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, December 12, 2019

God Himself taught this Virgin and Martyr.


"I am the Lord, your God, teaching you how to prevail, leading you on the way you should go." (Isaiah 48: 17).

Friday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of St Lucy (+304), Virgin and Martyr. Lucy died a martyr under Emperor Diocletian. Lucy had been venerated as a saint from antiquity. Her name is included in the Roman Canon.

Look at our Scripture for today:
"I am the Lord, your God, teaching you how to prevail, leading you on the way you should go."
One of the titles of God that I like very much is: TEACHER OF ALL MANKIND. Imagine a toddler being taught by her mother how to walk, eat, talk, write, etc. So does God do for you and for me. But God is simply not only the Teacher of all mankind (homo sapiens). He is the Teacher of all living things. I am incredulous watching wildlife and observing how ferocious wild animals are so tender towards their young ones or mourn them when they are dead. Who taught them? God!

But how does God teach us? The answer is in the Responsorial Psalm of today:
"Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked; nor lingers in the way of sinners nor sits in the company of scoffers, but whose delight is the law of the Lord and who ponders his law day and night." (Psalm 1: 1 - 2).

God teaches us what is best for us through His word. Are you teachable? Do you delight in the word of God? It is not too late. Advent is a Season we are promised plenty of God's unmerited favor. Come today to the throne of grace and mercy with boldness to receive grace now.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Patroness.


“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." (Luke 1: 30).

Thursday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe started in 1531 long before the United States of America. Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a young Mexican man. She was dressed as a simple pregnant Mexican woman. She left an imprint of herself on her dress. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe houses this miraculous dress still with the original imprint. The Basilica has become a place of popular pilgrimage for millions down the centuries. Although I have not fulfilled my desire to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, I have visited a replica Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe  in Port Arthur, Texas. Great experience!

Who is Mary? Mary the Mother of our Savior and Redeemer is called by the great Church document, Lumen Gentium: "A sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God." (CCC 972).Hope of what? Hope of the ultimate blessing for humanity: Eternal life and bliss with GOD forever.

The Church declares that "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion." (CCC 971). Mary is not god or goddess.  "All generations will call me blessed." This is not the will of man but a prophecy. Her apparition in Mexico in 1531 caused the conversion of about 9 million Mexicans from idol worship to the true faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do not be afraid to call upon Mary in all of your necessities.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Do you wait for the Lord? Be confident. God will never be late!


"Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up.  But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40: 30-31 TLB).

Wednesday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of St Damasus 1 (305 - 384), Pope. You may never have heard of Pope Damasus but this man has far more impact in the Church than many well-known popes.
He summoned the 1st Council of Constantinople. He promoted the veneration of martyrs. He commissioned St Jerome to translate the Bible into the Vulgate which remained the official version for over 1000 years. Pope St Damasus changed the liturgical language of the Church from Greek to Latin.

The Holy Scriptures say everywhere that it is good to wait for the Lord. This is the core message for us today.
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Do you wait for the Lord for anything? Health, family well-being, financial peace, job, a new car, home? You should find much comfort in today's word of God.

"Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and he will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted, and courageous. Yes, wait and he will help you." (Psalm 27: 14 TLB).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, December 09, 2019

The lost and found sheep.


"What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? (Matthew 18: 12).

Tuesday of the 2nd week of Advent. The Lord puts before us the parable of the Lost and Found Sheep. How do you feel when you lose or misplace something valuable? I do not consider myself a miser. I confess that I embarrass myself how diligently I search for something until I find it. Or I am forced to stop searching because the search has become absurd and ridiculous.

Once upon a time, I prepared for weeks to teach Young Adults Confirmation class, a 7 weeks course. I walked into the classroom on the first night and found just one sheep. Just one sheep? To make a long story short, I declined to go ahead with the course. The Lord came after me quickly. First, He sent the young man's mother to confront me the following Sunday. "I worked so hard to convince my son to register for the course with the hope that the course and the Confirmation Sacrament would lead him back to the Church."

The very next Sunday, we had the Parable of the Lost Sheep as the Gospel. At the end of the Mass, I have got more than enough lesson and rebuke for my misdeed.

"And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.  In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost." (Matthew 18: 13 - 14).

"Paris is worth a Mass," so the saying goes. If bringing home one lost sheep causes rejoicing in Heaven, God forbid that I will deny Heaven such a joy!

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, December 08, 2019

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

"Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1: 38).

Monday of the 2nd week of Advent is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Moved from Sunday December 8th). What is the Immaculate Conception?

"To become the mother of the Savior, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role." The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace". In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace." (CCC 490).

In other words, the Immaculate Conception is the special Gift God bestowed on Mary for her Mission.
Mission = Mother of the Redeemer.
Enabling gift is her sinlessness from the moment of conception.

I experienced my annunciation moment when I returned to the practice of the faith after 20 years of AWOL. God used my brokenness and placed me in a desert for a considerable time. One evening, I broke out in desperate prayer addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The response to that prayer is unforgettable:
"ALL you need is the Holy Spirit." I went searching to find out what is the Holy Spirit. Many years after the blessed elocution, I came to understand what my response will always be: "Lord, let ALL that I need be always the Holy Spirit."

Do you believe that God can speak to you through a silent inner voice, through Sacred Scriptures, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in the Mass, through a human being?

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women." (Luke 1: 28)."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Second Week of Advent - A Kairos of Grace.


"The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord." (Isaiah 11: 2 - 3).

Second Sunday of Advent. The Prophet Isaiah prophesying some 700 years before the Birth of Jesus gives us the sharpest profile of the Messiah. In this profile, we see that the Son of Man and Son of Mary will be Son of God.

What the Church teaches as the Seven Gifts and 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit are attributes of God.

Fathers of the Church have taught for centuries that Jesus Christ became Man so that we humans may become gods. We become gods through the transformative work of the Holy Spirit. A transformation that starts in our Baptism. The Church's liturgical cycle provides some key growth points in this Journey of Faith. Lent and Advent are the principal seasons of the liturgical year.

"Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you."  (Isaiah 49: 8).

Faith is accepting the word of God as true.  Then act according to the the word you believe.

Advent is Now. A Time (Kairos) of divine favor.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, December 06, 2019

Feast of St Ambrose of Milan.


"Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus: Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 10: 5, 6 - 7).

Saturday of the 1st week of Advent is the feast of St Ambrose (340 - 397), Bishop and Doctor of the Church. St Ambrose was still unbaptized and mayor of the imperial city of Milan when he was elected the Bishop of Milan. Aided by the Holy Spirit, Ambrose quickly rose to the challenges of his calling. God gave him the courage of an apostle and made him an outstanding teacher in the Church. He was famous for his care of the poor and his apostolic zeal and opposition to the Arian heresy which was the scourge of the Church in the 4th and 5th century. St Ambrose converted and baptized St Augustine.

The Twelve Apostles sent out to mission by Jesus in our Gospel of today has a worthy successor in St Ambrose. Why are the saints a critical part of our Christian heritage?

#1 Honoring the saints glorifies Jesus, the Prince of all the saints.
#2 How do we know that Christianity is true? Because of the lives of the saints. The saints modeled the life of Jesus Christ and many of them laid down their lives to defend the truth of the Faith.

"Lead us, who have been strengthened by the power of this Sacrament, O Lord, so to profit from the teaching of Saint Ambrose that, hastening fearlessly along your paths, we may be prepared for the delights of the eternal banquet.
Through Christ our Lord." (Prayer after Communion, feast of St Ambrose).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com